Interviewed February 9, 2017 by Alice Taylor, volunteer
Have you had other residencies?
What did you learn anything new about yourself?
SO MANY THINGS! I brought out Patti Smith’s Just Friends and read a little bit every morning. Her writing is so simple and plain and yet so dramatic at the same time. Don’t know how she does it but I guess that’s her true voice. I copied a passage into my notebook that read
“my failed attempt at painting her portrait, rolls of canvas splashed in umber, pinks, and greens, souvenirs of a gone ambition…..I said goodby to my stuff…There’s always new stuff, that’s for sure.”
I’ve identified myself as a visual artist my entire life and it’s been struggle, struggle, struggle. I KNOW what good art looks like and I can’t make it. Words have always been incorporated into my artwork. Writing is like falling off a log, no struggle at all. I realized I’m ready to take the road of no resistance, “a gone ambition” as Patti said. I’m a crappy visual artist but a good writer. What a thing to learn after 65 years! ( I don’t count my first 5 years because like all kids i was probably a wonderful artist back then!)
Why did you apply to Hypatia-in-the-Woods?
I live in a very urban setting in an apartment building in New Orleans where you can’t open the windows. I have air conditioning no matter how hot or cold it is outside. I was just craving to be in nature and to feel the weather. Also, NOLA (New Orleans, LA) is such a party town, constantly going out or being invited to go out. I wanted some serious solitude to work, meditate, think, and I got it.
You have been at Hypatia for three weeks. Do you wish it had been a different length?
I wish it had been 4.
Are you a full time writer?
Not exactly. But I am a full time procrastinator.
What place in Holly House did you gravitate to?
I spent my mornings in the chair, corner of the living room, reading, writing, meditating. Then I moved to the kitchen table to work on my stories, Little Theater, and to do publishing research.
Do you have a favorite place on the grounds?
It was cold and rainy most of the time – end January, early February so I got my nature fix looking out the windows.
What were the sights, sounds or smells on the grounds that inspired you?
Well, being from New Orleans where summer can break out in January, experiencing a real snow storm was absolute magic!
What were you most happy to accomplish at Hypatia?
I came to find a block of time to research the constantly changing, ever more complicated world of publishing/self-publishing. Now that it’s a multi-billion dollar industry, vendors are jumping in left and right. I managed to get a much better grip on what’s involved. Not there yet, but made good headway.
What was different about what you hoped to accomplish and what you actually accomplished?
I thought I was coming here to write and do research on publishing as I said. But something much more momentous occurred. I met someone new, me. I introduced myself to myself. Major!
In general, what influences your work?
Stories. People are so full of interesting stories. I swear, I think I could walk into any room, tap the first 5 people I see, and write the craziest book about each of their lives. Nothing tame about life.
What inspired your work the most during your stay?
Solitude and living in nature.
When you look back on your experience at Hypatia-in-the-Woods, what memory do you want to keep?
I guess first would be the people I met, all stellar start to finish. Then I guess it would be how productive I was, and how happy. I hope to take that productivity home with me because I think that’s what really made me happy.
What three words would best describe your experience at Hypatia?
Joy. Beauty. Kinship.
What advice would you offer to women thinking about applying for a residency?
One of the best experiences of my life, what more can I say. Do it for yourself.